Destination Overview Made up of 2,000 cays and 700 islands, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas (commonly called the Bahamas), are one of the more popular cruising destinations. Just about every major cruise line offers Bahamas cruises, as the cruising season in this area (that was formerly ruled by the United Kingdom) is year round. Since the Bahamas are located in the Atlantic and are English-speaking, they're a very popular vacation destination for Americans in particular.
The Bahamas offers great beaches (with a variety of water sports available at most), boutiques, gambling, golf and lively open-air marketplaces. Paradise Island, one of the Bahamas islands, is a popular attraction for tourists in the Bahamas. It is the home of the famous Vegas-style Atlantis Resort, featuring a large casino, water park, lagoon, boardwalk and aquarium.
A great thing about the Bahamas is that since they're located so close to the southeastern United States there are Bahamas cruises available that are as short as 3-nights in length, as well as Bahamas cruises that are a week long. The Bahamas are also featured on a few cruises that combine Caribbean and Bahamian ports of call on the same itinerary. Most Bahamas cruises depart from a East Coast U.S. port, such as Baltimore, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New York and Norfolk.
Popular Ports of Call
There are two main ports of calls in the Bahamas, Nassau (located on the island of New Providence, where the majority of the population of the Bahamas lives) and Freeport (located on the island of Grand Bahama). Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas, is home to the ultra-popular Atlantis Resort, great duty-free shopping, a straw market and beautiful beaches (such as Cable Beach). Lucaya (located near Freeport) is a fabulous area to shop in, particularly the Port Lucaya Marketplace.
The Bahamas is the also location of many of the major cruise line's private islands. These are islands that the cruise lines exclusively have access to for their passengers. They typically offer a relaxed atmosphere with beaches, water sports, food (usually brought ashore from the ship), drinks, shore excursions and a little bit of shopping. Princess Cruises' Princess Cays, NCL's Great Stirrup Cay (the first private island in the cruising industry), Carnival and Holland America's Half Moon Cay, Royal Caribbean's CocoCay and Disney's Castaway Cay are all a part of the Bahamas. Since private islands are operated by the cruise lines, you'll be able to charge drinks purchased while ashore to your onboard account. A wide variety of shore excursions, typically water sports, are offered by cruise lines at these fun ports.
When's the Best Time To Go?
The cruising season in the Bahamas is year round. As far as when the "best time to go" is, it really on what your priorities are. If you're a price-driven consumer, then you'd want to stay away from mid-June through mid-August Bermuda cruises. The prices during those times are typically higher than the rest of the year because families travel more while kids are out of school. The "off season" for the Bahamas is generally considered to be September through mid-December and mid-January through May (excluding holidays such as Easter, President's Week and Spring Break).
As far as temperature goes, the Bahamas have a subtropical to tropical climate. Rarely will the temperature dip below a daily high of eighty (Fahrenheit). Hurricane season is from the summer through the end of fall, and the Bahamas have been victim to numerous hurricanes over the years (such as Hurricane Wilma, in 2005).